Happy Birthday, Mama Dot

You didn’t like to make a big deal about your birthday. Looking back now, I realize that’s only because you never made things much about yourself in the first place.

I’ve needed to look into your eyes a lot of times lately. Looking there always kept me honest. Your eyes were soft and they cradled me. You wept behind your glasses as you’d take in my words.

We’d sit for hours around that table; you’d fidget with your leftover lunch napkin, rolling and twirling it through your hands. But you’d never take your eyes off me. Sometimes you’d close them, but I know now you were only trying to take my pain away.

There’s a picture of you in our house that I tend to go to when I need you. You were young, holding a guitar, in the middle of a field. And you almost smiled. You didn’t like to smile for pictures, and you didn’t play the guitar as far as I know. That’s what makes this picture so amazing. Someone captured you out of your comfort zone, a place you didn’t go often.

But that picture, it saves me. Something about it allows me to connect with you unlike the others. To have known you at such a young age in your life, at a time when you were so wild and free and innocent. I imagine what you did on the day you took this picture. Who was behind the camera? And what you did after you posed for this one photo?

You were the safest space I ever knew. I’d give anything to be around that table with you again and to share just one more tomato sandwich, one more bowl of vegetable soup, play one more hand of Uno, wrap one more Christmas present, send one more sympathy card, or hold your precious hands just once more.
You saved me. And you still do.

I’m so grateful you got a wild hair that day and decided to pose for this picture, and I’m so glad you were born. I’m sending you the biggest “wowee” kiss in heaven today and appreciate you staying with me over the years. I feel you here, and I like it.

Happy birthday, Mama Dot. I love you a bushel and a peck.

24 Mondays

That’s how many I’ve had to rock you before nap. That’s how many I’ve had to hold you in the heirloom rocking chair in your bedroom, the place we’ve both come to know and love with such intimacy and sacred appreciation.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to notice that you like to grab hold of the sides of the rocking chair, one arm at a time, nice long stretches, while your head stays rested on my chest. How you love to hold onto my shoulder with only one arm, like a baby sloth, and you sleep with your mouth open and have a tiny growl of a snore.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to feel an inching wonder that you may never stop breastfeeding, and while I appreciate the bond and beauty and all that breastfeeding does for our soul and the souls of mamas and babies all over the world…believe me, I’m so grateful. But I’m ready for it to end.

But then…I can’t help but think that in 24 Mondays from now, you probably won’t want to nurse anymore. You may not even want me to rock you, and who knows if you will even want to be held at all. How many words will you say then? You’ll have a new thing that you do, and a new preference about you. Will you still call it “bbubbbbll” and like to be patted on the butt to be soothed? Will you want to play with your sister, or find solitary adventure without her?

All these things that I think won’t ever stop, they will. That’s just the thing.

And I will miss them.

I’ve come to realize that you’re likely the last one, Everly Jean. The last baby to be birthed and rocked and swaddled and breastfed. The last one. They saved the best for last with you. You’re good, you. Mama loves you, more than you may ever truly know.

I’ve watched you change other people, too. Strangers sometimes. Often times. They connect eyes with you and you give them that toothy smile and your eyes light up like Mama Dot. They see you like I see you.

Life is teaching me that finding gratitude for what shows up in my path, that’s true beauty. That my purpose right now is to be a mother, and to be there for you and your sister when you need me. To teach you to appreciate what you’ve got in life, to be kind to every single person you meet, and to love with all that you’re made of.

Raising and growing you into the lady version of yourself so that you, too can be a mama and a light for your own girls some day.

Knowing that a day will come when you won’t need me at all anymore and I will be lucky if you call me before bedtime each night when you’re all grown up.

All the growth and digging deep in self-discovery over the last year of my life seems to run parallel to your existence. You are wondrous to me, and I may never be able to find the right words to tell you exactly what you are to me. My hope is, that you’ll just see and know like the world sees you.

Perfect wonder, you are, Everly Jean.


I look forward to 24 more Mondays with you, that lead to Fridays and weekends where Sunday seems to drag out forever. Those are our favorite days.

I’ll try to stop rushing you to grow up now. Sleep well, our princess. Mama loves you.

 


 

Dear Sadler

Happy Birthday, my sweet child!

It’s been 5 years.

Five years since you joined your Daddy and I on this Earth. I woke up this morning and instantly started to think back. Back to what life was like before you, and the thing is, I can barely remember. You’ve made life more fun, plain and simple.

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I remember being pregnant with you and wondering what you’d look like. What your voice would sound like. How old you’d be when you learned to read, and what color eyes you’d have. I remember sitting at Herbie’s eating breakfast with your Daddy the morning you were born. It was a Saturday. You weren’t due until 13 days later, but I had an eerie feeling from the second I woke up that day. Not a scary kind of eerie, just a feeling like I hadn’t felt before. After breakfast, I went to get a prenatal massage (which I don’t rule out as what put me into labor), and then it was Chick Fil A and a movie that afternoon.

We watched Savages. I remember thinking how pretty Blake Lively was, and the movie was pretty intense so it kept me on the edge of my seat (and awake! I usually fall asleep in movies, which I’m sure you know by now).

After the movie, we headed home to get Gladston so we could head out to Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sarah’s house for dinner. When we got to their house, I opened the door, stepped out onto the driveway and there it went. Everywhere.  A big, warm gush all over my flip flops, down my legs. I remember crying immediately, I knew it was time.

Your Ga Ga looked at me, deep into my eyes and said, “It’s gonna be ok.”

I don’t think poor Gladston ever even got out of the Jeep. Daddy drove us (safely but quickly) back to the townhouse to get our stuff to get ready to go to the hospital.

I took a shower. I cried more. I prayed, a lot. (Looking back, it wasn’t a time in my life when I was close to God. I rarely prayed, if ever. But in that moment it washed over me as the only thing to do. I cry as I write this, because it reminds me how far I’ve come.)

We got our stuff and headed to the hospital. Since you were breach, and with no success in you re-positioning, a cesarean was planned for 6 days later. But since my water broke and I was now in active labor on my own, things were a little different than my mind had played them out.

We got to the hospital and it was around 5:30 or so. It seemed relatively quiet there, but as luck would have it, the entire hospital was transitioning to a new software THAT DAY and the “go live” date was THAT DAY. So, I sensed panic in the nurses right away.

As we were getting prepped for surgery, something went wrong. I was fortunate enough to have the hottest anesthesiologist in the history of time talking to me and explaining things as the spinal block was going into my back. Your daddy was still in the hallway scrubbing in, and I was gazing into Dr. McDreamy’s eyes, trying not to think about the excruciating pain taking place in my body…when, in walked Dr. Grewal.

In my mind, I to this day think she said Code Red. It could just be that my brain remembers the story that way, I don’t really know. I just remember that that’s when everything changed.

I remember saying, “What’s wrong?!” She grabbed me by the hand and explained to me that your umbilical cord had prolapsed and that the surgery needed to begin immediately. “Incision!” I felt it, left to right. Your daddy still wasn’t there.

“My husband, I need my husband!” Dr. McDreamy held my hand and kept me calm until Reid got in the room.

It felt like hours. They were working hard to get you out of there, and it became clear then to me why you never turned – you couldn’t move! You’d gotten yourself all cozy in there in a position that you couldn’t get out of!

When the nurses and doctor finally got you out, we waited to hear your cry. I couldn’t wait to look at you. To hold you. To nurse you. To kiss you. To smell you.

I got to do all of those things, but they were too fast. Too fast for firsts.

They wheeled me off to recovery, and Daddy took you to the nursery for your bath.

That seemed like the longest 2 hours of my life. I wanted you in my arms. I couldn’t stop shaking. The nurses seemed to ignore me as they stumbled through their new software. I felt so alone, and I couldn’t wait to see your face again.

When I finally did, nothing else mattered anymore. There was no pain. I became overwhelmed with joy. And a sense of love like I’d never known before.599445_10100778192273359_24538829_n

Once we got home, it sort of just became me and you. There were visitors, but we also had lots of time together, alone. I watched you sleep a lot. I slept beside you, and I loved listening to the coo under your breath as you slept.

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You were like magic to me. I wanted you near me, all of the time. And you didn’t seem to mind. You were perfect in so many ways. Even strangers would say it. The shape of your face seemed perfectly symmetrical. You were beauty in every form.

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I fell in love with baby-wearing. And you were always such a good sport about it. Looking back at this photo, I know that this type of carrier isn’t really ideal for hip support and we only used it this one time, but I remember how proud I was at this very moment to be a mama. To walk around the neighborhood as you slept on my chest, and to feel full. And proud. And that I had done something right in life. Calling you mine was easy, and I felt worthy. You filled me up with love, you see.

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Gladston loved you immensely, too. I sure hope you remember him. He sat by your side a lot of the time, and watched you sleep much like I did. We’d pick “Gladston boogers” off your clothes constantly. But we didn’t mind. In fact, I think that’s how he got the name “Booger Bear”.

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Watching you grow up into the young lady you are today, well the magic hasn’t stopped. It only continues. Your spirit is stubborn yet true, your soul is genuine and whole, your heart is open and honest, and your imagination inspires me. I love every single thing about you, and couldn’t be more proud to be your mama, Sadler Mae.

I hope today is the best birthday yet and that your Daddy was able to find that unicorn you’ve been asking for.

Love,

Mama 

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In Case You’ve Wondered What It’s Like

Guilt. There’s been a lot of that.

Because I underestimated what it would be like to be at home. There have been fewer showers, less projects and more chores. There have been days when I feel like I’m on top of the world, and days when I cry for hours and wonder when I will get a break and feel sane again.

I sometimes eat dinner in the bathroom while watching my kids play in the bath tub, and my house isn’t nearly as clean as I thought it would be.

I completely took for granted the 40-hour break I got from being a mom each week. Not that my  mom-worries and responsibilities stopped when I went to work, but shifting my responsibility to something else for eight hours a day was a break. And I didn’t ever think so at the time.

I underestimated the value of a lot of the relationships I had with my co-workers, and I’ve realized that I wasn’t a very good boss or friend at work. I couldn’t have been. I was trying to do it all by myself, and had lost faith in God and I too often let my stress get to me. I always seemed annoyed and no one ever seemed to need me at a time that was convenient for me. I was so buried in tasks and the desire to perform. I cared deeply about always doing the right thing and being good for everyone, but I wasn’t good for myself. I am thankful for this awareness now and look forward to continuing to nurture the relationships I had through work that I know were real.

I miss interacting with adults all day and I miss taking a lunch break. I miss holding team meetings and watching my maintenance guys roll their eyes because I asked them to hang a sign.

There are days when my mind surges with ideas for my new business and all I want is eight hours to sit at a desk and my laptop and colorful pens and planners and a good playlist. I’d even take four hours. I just miss the grind of getting stuff done. Having a perpetual to-do list that carries over from one day to the next makes you feel like you’re digging holes on the beach. The wave comes, and fills up your hole and you have to dig again. And then more waves.

So, I savor nap time and all that I’m able to accomplish (like this blog post), but I feel guilty for telling Sadler she can watch TV while I work.

I’ve moved on to living life in my favorite robe and yoga pants, spending most of my day in the kitchen and building a rock star essential  oil business. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my Granny over the last three months than I’ve spent with her in the last 10 years. I’ve cancelled cable, sold my dream car, paid off debt, started this blog, read at least a dozen books and made lasting new friendships.

I’m grateful for all the naps I’ve been able to rock Everly before, and all the times I’ve been able to say Hi to the mailman.

I know that being needed all of the time may seem heavy and hard, because it is. But I’m thankful for the time I’ve learned to make for myself and appreciate each minute more than ever before. I’m learning to let the guilt of it all go, because I feel in my bones that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. And doing it with dirty hair and yoga pants makes it just that much more fun.

I know how the lotus flower grows…

 

 

 

Reflections: A Season Ends

I had a really close friend in college tell me out of the blue that we couldn’t be friends anymore. She just stopped hanging out with me. I remember feeling super-confused and I asked another friend if he knew what happened to make her stop wanting to hang out. He said, “You were just too much for her to handle”…

My journey as an at-home mama began at the end of winter. Spring came in, a fresh breeze of light and momentum. Now it’s nearing an end, and summer starts next week. A new season, a new set of goals and a new wave of life and adventure.

I’m learning to accept that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. They may float in and it feels as if they’ve been in the room all along. Like a feather. (I saw a feather on the beach just last weekend. It reminded me of the down pillows on Mama Dot’s bed and it made me smile/cry a tiny tear.)

Some people leave suddenly like my college friend, and we can’t help but wonder what we did to suddenly shift things so unexpectedly.

But then sometimes, we are blessed with people who land on our path at just at the right time. We instantly feel warm and we know we will love them forever.

I see life differently now.

Do you remember those books we used to color in as a kid? The ones where the pages were black and white drawings with tiny boxes within the drawing, like a big puzzle… and there was a number in the box and you filled in the boxes according to the little legend at the bottom of the page? Well, now when I look at those pages, all of my tiny boxes are filled in with color. All of the drawings are colored in in beautiful colors. It’s the same book, but I see all the colors. I now get the joy of adding glitter to the pages.

I’ve learned that being misunderstood is one of the most painful experiences as a human. Or, at least for me as a human. I can be seen by many as a punch in the face, packed into a pill form, immediately followed by a smile and a hug. But what I’m learning is that we all see differently, through different lenses. And I’m just not seen by everyone. And I can’t change that. I have a big heart and a strong passion to help others find the light within them. I’ve been called to help others see what I now see.

I’ve felt my friendships shift over the recent weeks, as the season has shifted into summer. I feel the energy moving around my circles and feel the different bonds forming as weekends and fireside nights turn to beach memories and family time at the park. I feel some drifting away as some are drawing closer. I welcome and appreciate the joy I feel in my life every day and am thankful for the people who have allowed me into their space. If you’ve been in mine, I can assure you it was a pure joy for me. I savor every bit of time I have to give love to others and am humbled by what this season has done for me as a person, a mother, a wife, a friend, a business leader.

The light within me sees and honors the light within you.

I look forward to summer. More time in the sun, more time in the sand, more time in the hammock, more burgers on the grill, more deep talks on the back patio. I look forward to pool days and spending time with some of my sweet mama friends around the baby pool.

I am thankful for what spring cultivated in my life. It’s incredibly beautiful to watch growth through nurturing and a little love and attention. Grace gets us far, I’m learning. God is so big and great and good.

 

Reflections: Motherhood for Me

Something salpingitis. That’s what I remember my doctor saying to me. She was young like me, so the tears in her eyes as she told me made sense to me. But I still didn’t understand. Having children on my own would be very difficult because my fallopian tubes were blocked? I’m sorry, what do you mean exactly? I remember getting in the car and sobbing. We knew we wanted to have a family, and we had already discussed adoption if it truly wasn’t in our plan to have our own children. But I was devastated to think of the possibility.

God proved that doctor wrong and we became pregnant with Sadler in 2011. When we found out we were pregnant, I will never forget the way that I felt. I felt happier and more excited than ever before! I quickly became washed with the gift of motherhood and made my body a temple to prepare for the precious child God would bless us with.

We wanted a boy. I really wanted a boy. I even knew what I wanted to name him. I remember being in the tiny ultrasound room, my parents and Reid’s parents circled the room as we all patiently waited for the technician to tell us. When she said it was a girl…I wept. I think to this day everyone in the room except for my husband thought I was weeping tears of joy. In reality, the tears were fear and disappointment. I felt guilty for being sad that it wasn’t a boy. But deep down, I feared I wouldn’t know how to be a mother to a girl. My mother and I didn’t have the closest of relationships throughout my life, and while I love my mother dearly and am thankful for the journey we rode because it has undoubtedly led me to who and what I am today — I was scared.

Sadler Mae was born on July 12, 2012 via cesarean because she was breach. Her umbilical cord prolapsed while I was being prepped for delivery and what was a normal procedure turned into an emergency situation in the blink of an eye. My husband was still in the hall being scrubbed in when they made the incision to get her out. The anesthesia hadn’t fully kicked in. I wanted my husband’s hand to hold. I wanted his eyes to look into. Within a few seconds, he stood before me, and I don’t think either of us was breathing. We just locked eyes and cried as the doctors and nurses worked to get Sadler out of my body. She was lodged under my ribcage and it took lots of force and unexpected positioning to get her out. And then, the sweetest most anticipated sound my ears ever did wait to hear. She cried. And I breathed. And my life was changed forever.

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In January of 2015 I turned 33 and for a birthday gift, someone very special to me took me to see a spiritual advisor. I had been to one once before as a teenager, and honestly didn’t know what to expect as we walked in. One of the things that came up during our conversation was whether or not I would be blessed with another child. Reid and I knew we wanted another child, and I really still wanted to have a son. I had dreamt of my baby Dax. I had seen his face before and held him in my arms. So when I told this to the spiritual advisor that day, I felt the look in her eye but wouldn’t fully understand until a few months later. She gently smiled and told me that “soon enough” I would be pregnant again and reminded me to be patient with God’s plan.

I found out I was pregnant with another baby girl in June of 2015 and Everly Jean was born on December 27. She and I rocked out an amazing vaginal delivery, which was something I wanted more than I even realized until it actually happened. It was intense and long and difficult and painful. But there is no doubt in my mind that the second this child exited my body and joined our family earth side, a spiritual gate opened within my soul and my life became bright with colors I’d never seen before.

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I’ve thought often about my conversation with the spiritual advisor that day, and after connecting the dots in some of my own intuition I now believe that we did get our baby Dax. He was living inside me at some point in my life. However, God had Everly held for us and she was waiting. It wasn’t in the plan for baby Dax to be mine on Earth. But it was most certainly his divine plan to give me Everly.

I am weeping as I type this, because I am filled with so much emotion through this realization. We often think we have it all figured out, but we are small in the grand scheme of everything. God has a bigger plan for us all, and doctor’s don’t know everything. Life is a gift and a miracle.

 

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I will celebrate being a mother every day that I’m alive. I enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend with my two daughters and husband picking strawberries and just loving on each other. It’s the little things that reset my perspective of my purpose. I’m grateful for these moments.

It Always was WAHM

 

This has been my view lately. It’s what I see when I look out the back window of my house. In front of this window sits a tall kitchen table with lots of chairs. It’s where I sit (and stand) a lot of the day. It’s where I work.

It was February 1st of this year, and it was the very first day that I was at home in my “new life”. On this day, I recall thinking to myself…”I’m never going to think or say the words: I have to go to work again today/tomorrow…“. I even recall telling my husband about this thought I had. I told him that I was going to make it my goal to never utter those words again. I recall him smirking and saying, “OK babe.”  In my heart, these words meant so much more to me than they may seem to you reading them now, or to my husband when he heard them initially. I had felt a shift within myself and knew that I was going to find a way to contribute to our family without ever working outside of the home again.

It was merely a few days later, I was standing in the laundry room listening to my thoughts race back and forth in my head between ideas I’d pondered on ways to work from home. My heart was heavy. I’d been praying about it. Reid and I had been fighting about it. Quitting my job – my CAREER in property management that had provided so many blessings for us over the last decade – was a BIG DEAL. And while my heart may have felt that there was a plan, putting that plan into motion seemed like a more daunting task than I had realized.

But as I stood there, and continued to pull each piece of clothing out of the dryer one-by-one, it was as if the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, Candice, turn your head to the left”.

On the countertop to my left sat my wooden box of essential oils. Our families medicine cabinet. My reliable emotional health regimen. My daily go-to for at least 5 different reasons for myself or someone in this house.

I remember throwing my head back and literally laughing out loud when this happened. “Really, Lord?!” I cried! Something that had been right at my fingertips every. single. day. for the last two years was now the vehicle to bring income to my family.

What does the word “work” really mean to us anyway? The way I see it, we work to make money. Right?!

So, what if I could make money a non-traditional way? A way in which I never had to “go to work” again, or at least it would never feel that way. And then I read a story about a man:

There once was a man who hauled buckets of water for a living. His job was to haul water every day from the nearest water source, back to his village. Because everyone needed water, he always sold out. If he wanted to make more money, he simply hauled more buckets of water.

After many years of hauling these buckets of water, the man grew tired. Then he had an idea and inspiration! He decided to use his spare time to build a pipeline, so that eventually he could be free of hauling buckets of water, yet still provide water to the people of his village. So, he worked very hard over the next few years to build his pipeline.

The day the man turned on his water spigot, everything changed. He had successfully created an unlimited supply of water for the villagers and himself, resulting in an abundant financial pipeline.

I never knew anything about network marketing. Like most people, I had my own narrow thoughts about what it really was and how it really worked. Prior to this year, I didn’t really care to know about it. I had used the products for the last couple of years and found  myself sharing with friends and loved ones naturally. However, I never had an interest in the business side of the company. I then read one book and that was all it took for me to see the vision.

It also hasn’t taken me very long to see that the business venture I’ve launched into is really a personal development company disguised as an essential oil company.

Over the last ninety days, I have grown exponentially as a person.

I have found support in some incredible people who are walking this same  journey with me.

I have had the beautiful pleasure of helping other people get started on this very same journey. While their pace may be different or their approach unique to my own, the journey is theirs – and I get to be a part in helping them reach their goals.

I have found a way to utilize all of the business skills I acquired and sharpened over the past decade in order to propel my business forward.

Reading this book opened my eyes to living on purpose and gave me a powerful inspiring approach to managing all of the goals in my life and has made them more attainable and the reward seem more gratifying.

I’ve also learned that at an early age, we give ourselves limiting beliefs on what we should do and feel and think and say. By doing this, we have fears that we may never breakthrough. Reading this book has been an eye-opening way to change this mindset altogether for me personally, and has taught me to face my fears head on and then to watch them dissipate.

I have taken a deep dive in, head first and will never look back.

If you find yourself feeling as if you are just going through the motions in your life, you probably are.

If you stare at the ceiling at night thinking that there has got to be a better way to live life, there definitely is.

We were all put on this Earth to do something more than just pay bills.

Life is meant to be LIVED. We should not have to haul buckets for hours upon days upon weeks upon years.

Time is not something meant to hold us captive by all that we “have to do”. Time is actually in abundance if you can learn to shift your mindset about what’s actually important to you. Only then will you see that time is a gift, not a limitation.

I look forward to life now more so than ever. I truly welcome each day as a new gift from God and am so thankful to be able to carry out the plans He has in store for me. My heart remains full so that I may pour into others.

I went from working 40-50 hours a week outside of the home to working about 15 hours per week inside the home and am on a path to replace the income I once earned by the Fall of this year. This opportunity has proved itself to be very real and for once in my life, there is no stress associated with my “job”. It feels weird even calling what I do now a “job” because it just doesn’t feel like work. It just doesn’t.

I don’t sell essential oils. I share and educate others.

I don’t have essential oil parties. I teach essential oil classes.

This is not my hobby. This is my business.

I’m busy building a pipeline for my family so that someday, the mental shift will have come full circle — and we can pack up and vacation for three weeks if we feel like it. And we won’t have any debt left to pay. And we won’t feel like prisoners of time to the demands of the institutionalized world we feel so vacuumed into today.

I have a personal goal to lead a team of 1,000 people to take charge of their own health and wellness. I will achieve this goal by teaching anyone I can about the endless benefits these gifts of the Earth offer.

Who do you know that can help me reach this goal?…